Joseph Smith stated that “the great thing for us to know is to comprehend what God did institute before the foundation of the world” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 320).
On another occasion, Joseph declared, “The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence, or ever ‘the morning stars sang together’ for joy; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now;’ He knew of the fall of Adam, . . . of the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family, their weakness and strength, their power and glory . . . their crimes, their righteousness and iniquity; He comprehended the fall of man, and his redemption; . . . He knows the situation of both the living and the dead, and has made ample provision for their redemption, according to their several circumstances, and the laws of the kingdom of God, whether in this world, or in the world to come” (Teachings, p. 220).
Our Heavenly Father and His Son, the great Jehovah, are eternal. Being eternal, They see each of us as eternal beings from beginning to end. While They know and understand our “good days” and our “bad days,” Their plan and love for each for each us is eternal and spans the whole of our existence. They love to bless us as we are obedient to eternal laws and They encourage us to improve our lives through the influence of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we live, the circumstances of our birth, life, or death, or the physical and mental difficulties provided by our mortal bodies and surroundings, They have, within the universal and eternal plan of salvation, provided for each of us an earthly experience that proves us and lifts us to become our best selves-to become like Them.
King Benjamin, in one of the greatest gospel sermons ever recorded, taught his people this plan of salvation that they might become the sons and daughters of Christ. Said Benjamin, “I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world. And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you” (Mosiah 4:7-8). Those conditions are simply “there shall be no other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ” and we must humble ourselves and “become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ” (Mosiah 3:17-18).
In addition, King Benjamin asks us to come to a knowledge of the goodness of God–of his power, wisdom, patience, long suffering, and love–and a knowledge of “the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world” (Mosiah 4:6). This knowledge then requires of us to “trust in the Lord” and be “diligent in keeping his commandments” in faith unto the end of our lives. Benjamin reminds us that “man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend” (Mosiah 4:9).
If indeed the Father knew us so well that he provided the plan of salvation through His Son, and “man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend,” and as we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father, we should be careful in how we act, think about, and treat others.
Joseph Smith, in a discussion on the justice of God in dealing with our actions, stated that in comparison to human law, the Lord could not be more cruel than man, “for He is a wise legislator, and His laws are more equitable, His enactments more just, and His decisions more perfect than those of man” (Teachings, p. 221).
In our dealings with others, it is wise to heed the counsel of King Benjamin–“I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith” (Mosiah 4:11). If we do this, we “shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of [our] sins; and [we] shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created [us], or in the knowledge of that which is just and true” (Mosiah 4:12).
There are visible signs of those who have been born of Christ through the atonement. If we indeed call upon the Lord in humility and strive to live His gospel, we will be “filled with the love of God and “will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due” (Mosiah 4:13). The sign is then how we treat each other.
Benjamin first stresses to parents how to treat their children (Mosiah 4:14-15), and then helps us to turn our attention to others around us. It seems one of the main focuses of Benjamin’s words is to help us look upon others as ourselves, fellow brothers and sisters, and strive to help each other through this earth life and return to Father in heaven. If we truly want to retain a forgiveness of our sins and weaknesses, then we must help others in their needs, “administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally” (Mosiah 4:26). In his desire to help us look upon others as we look upon ourselves, Benjamin doesn’t want us to forget to “watch [ourselves], and [our] thoughts, and [our] words, and [our] deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith . . . even unto the end of [our] lives” (Mosiah 4:30).
President Heber J. Grant taught this same principle from a different perspective when he said, “Every Latter-day Saint who is loyal to the principles of the gospel is not seeking wealth; he is not asking himself the question, ‘What have I?’ and ‘What can I gain?’ The true Latter-day Saint is asking, ‘What can I do to better myself, to encourage those with whom I am associated, and to uplift the children of God?’ That is the inspiration that comes to every Latter-day Saint who realizes the force of this gospel that we have espoused” (Gospel Standards, p. 95).
Joseph Smith declared, “Let the Saints remember that great things depend on their individual exertion, and that they are called to be co-workers with us and the Holy Spirit in accomplishing the great work of the last days . . . let every selfish feeling be not only buried, but annihilated; and let love to God and man predominate, and reign triumphant in every mind, that their hearts may become like unto Enoch’s of old, and comprehend all things, present, past and future, . . . waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Teachings, p. 178-179).
May we remember the eternal nature of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and Their eternal love for each of us. May we learn and grow in our understanding of the plan of salvation, the saving power of the Atonement, and the eternal nature and brotherhood of each of us. May we be more understanding, more loving, and more obedient to the Lord’s teachings. “O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30).